Judge: Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' will stay on 23-hour lockdown

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Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" Guzman is expected to appear in federal court in NY on Friday.

Guzman wore dark blue prison garb during a status conference in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, where public defenders argued that their client's 23 hours under lock-down each day, with limited visits, kept him from selecting a private attorney. On Friday, defense attorneys sought to relax some of the security measures surrounding Guzman's incarceration. They added that jail officials are not allowing Guzman's common-law wife and Mexican lawyer to visit him.

Her rancher father, Ines Coronel Barreras, is said to have cultivated marijuana and opium poppies and her uncle is slain drug kingpin Igancio "Nacho" Coronel, who was an important member of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of El Chapo's most trusted men. El Chapo, 47 at the time, wooed the young Coronel, who eventually married him on her 18th birthday.

Emma Coronel El Chapo wife
Judge: Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' will stay on 23-hour lockdown

Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive drug trafficking operation that laundered billions of dollars and oversaw murders and kidnappings. "Guzman faces a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment, if convicted of the continuing criminal enterprise charge, and a maximum sentence of life on the remaining charges", the Department of Justice said.

To get Mexico to hand him over to the USA, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. Mexico opposes capital punishment.

"We understand the need for security but we think it has gone above and beyond", said Michelle Gelernt, one of Guzman's court-appointed lawyers.

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"If they want him to have access to hire a lawyer, we believe he needs to be able to meet with his family or at least confer with his family", Schneider said.

Guzman, who was most recently recaptured in Mexico in January 2016, was extradited to the United States last month for alleged drug crimes.

Guzman's next court appearance will be in May.

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A heavy police presence this morning escorted Guzman from the high-security Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan to a Brooklyn federal courthouse after Guzman's lawyers challenged the government's plan for him to appear in court via closed circuit TV from his MCC cell. Guzman's attorneys argued their client's absence in court would be prejudicial, creating the appearance that he is too risky to appear at the hearing.

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